The Grand Prix of Indonesia is well underway, which may come as a bit of a surprise. When rain battered the facility yesterday, which left conditions in a bad way, rumours about a condensed schedule began to fly around. Things are ticking along well at Pangkal Pinang though and there is even a dry line out on the track.
Conditions are honestly much better than anyone would have predicted. It is a little sloppy in places, like the inside of the turn after pit lane, but there are dry lines and even some options. The fact that every single regular managed to clear all of the jumps says it all, as that would have been impossible a year ago. Is poor weather on the way? There is a black cloud lurking, but some forecasts state that there will be no rain. The qualifying schedule should continue to run as normal. Tomorrow, on the other hand, could be a completely different story.
There were a few intriguing notes from practice and, seeing as this is a rapid-fire feature, those are run through below in the form of bullet points.
– Kevin Strjibos did not even appear in the free-practice results, due to electrical issues. A spark plug burst and caused a short circuit that broke the ECU. Complicated, huh? Strjibos is also nursing a sore hip, as he knocked it in the first moto at the Grand Prix of Lombardia. It is nothing too serious though.
– Tommy Searle had a rough go of it in the first session and hit the ground twice. The Bike It DRT Kawasaki team have their work cut out this weekend, as Searle has just one bike. Dropping the bike in the slosh was the worst-case scenario! Everything is fine though and he should shine as the weekend progresses.
– Tim Gajser rocketed to the fastest time in free practice, despite the fact that he is not necessarily known for his mud skills, and was more than two seconds faster than the rest of the field. One would think that is some kind of a record, but Jeffrey Herlings was three seconds quicker in free practice just five rounds ago. Gajser does always fare extremely well at the overseas events.
– Jeffrey Herlings returned to racing and seemed to be in a pretty good position. Herlings was second in free practice, which may not be the greatest indication of what he can do in the races, which was the same position that he occupied in free practice at Pangkal Pinang last year. The timed session was just as good, except he was much closer to the front. Herlings looks so aggressive and like he has not missed a beat.
– Pauls Jonass was the quickest in the MX2 class in free practice, for the third round in succession, so has now done that more than anyone else this season. The advantage that he had in the session, nine tenths, was also the greatest gap that he has had this season. Speaking of the MX2 class, there are no riders in the field who know what it is like to reach the chequered flag first in Indonesia.
– Bas Vaessen made up for the fact that his teammate, Hunter Lawrence, has not made the trip to Indonesia by recording a respectable time in free practice that left him fifth. Almost unbelievably, he has never slotted into the top five in the free session before. Starting a difficult weekend off with a career-best finish in a session is certainly not a bad way to kick things off.
Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Sean Ogden